News

Charting New Territory in the Art Blogosphere

by Hrag Vartanian on May 10, 2013

The limited edition Mobiado USB drive filled with digital art works is available at the Art F City booth at this year's Nada New York (photo courtesy Art F City)

The limited edition Mobiado USB drive filled with digital art works is available at the Art F City booth at this year’s Nada New York (photo courtesy Art F City)

In the world of art blogs the economic models are few and most have yet to be proven, but Art F City (AFC) is trying something new through a booth at this year’s Nada New York art fair, where the Brooklyn-based site and fellow Nectar Ad network cohort has decided to try their hand at selling art.

Paddy Johnson and Rhett of Art F City in their Nada booth (photo by the author) (click to enlarge)

Paddy Johnson and Rhett Jones of Art F City in their Nada booth (photo by the author) (click to enlarge)

Stashed in the corner of the large Nada fair that opened today, AFC has curated a selection of 11 works by well-respected digital artists onto a sleek USB drive by Canadian-based designer and manufacturer of luxury mobile phones Mobiado — it is called AFC Selects.

The artists represented on AFC Selects are Anthony Antonellis, Jacob Ciocci, Paul B. Davis, Rollin Leonard, Sara Ludy, Lorna Mills, Shana Moulton, Jon Rafman, Rafael Rozendaal, Bunny Rogers, and Nicolas Sassoon. Some of these artists have long-standing relationships with AFC, like Jon Rafman, whose “Nine Eyes of Google” project was propelled onto the international stage after being featured on the blog’s IMG MGT series, while others, like Bunny Rogers, have never been featured on the site.

AFC founder and editorial director Paddy Johnson says the funds raised from the sale will help benefit Art F City, its continuing independent coverage of the art world, and help the site continue its popular IMG MGT series that involves a great deal of time commitment on the part of editorial staff — the series has been on hiatus since 2011.

Coordinated by AFC’s development officer Rhett Jones, AFC Selects is a truly unique way to support the online work of a nonprofit blog that is embedded in the digital arts scene.

The labels for each of the 11 works are presented in a very computer aesthetic. And a specially designed AFC site — which is not public yet — shows potential collectors more information about each artist. (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

The labels for each of the 11 works on AFC Selects are presented in a very computer aesthetic. And a specially designed AFC site — which is not public yet — shows potential collectors more information about each artist. (photo by the author for Hyperallergic)

“I told someone earlier today that as a critic you spend your time looking at hundreds of works of art and manning a booth you spend your time talking about the same work hundreds of times,” Paddy Johnson says. “Here, we’ve had a chance to talk with and to a lot of regular readers, and that’s been really great. The interesting thing about the publishing world is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with many people who you may never meet. This gives us a chance to change that for at least a few readers.”

Does Johnson see a conflict between being a blog with an independent perspective that writes and criticizes contemporary art and selling works by some of the same artists? “Sure, but I think the journalistic model that assumes the most objective voice is a detached one is flawed,” she says. “Art reflects the communities that make it and for some of us, the best way to gain a comprehensive understanding is by being a participant.”

Priced at $650, AFC Selects is available starting today in an edition of 100 and nine have already been sold.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

    Great idea… but AFC is not the first art blog to do this. The Myartspace blog, alongside Myartspace / NYAXE itself, did something similar with USB drives back in 2008 during the Bridge Art Fair in Miami. With that in mind, we also did what Moving Image does now long before Winkleman tackled that direction (and we were not the first either. Ha). Oddly enough, we informed Hyperallergic of both of these directions… and was told that it basically was not news worthy (or maybe it was because we did not pay for ad space?). Interesting how times change — and how things that were once ignored are now viewed as innovations when others do them years after the fact. Just saying. ;p

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      Good try. Hyperallergic didn’t exist in 2008.

      • Guest

        My guess is that the contact was made sometime post 2008… but short of splitting hairs over dates, Sherwin is quite correct in pointing out the obvious: This is hardly groundbreaking territory to say the least.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Town/100002087388032 Justin Town

        My guess is that the contact was made sometime post 2008… but short of splitting hairs over dates, Sherwin is quite correct in pointing out the obvious: This is hardly groundbreaking territory to say the least.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

        Hrag, did I say I contacted you at the time? No. I mentioned what we had been doing, the directions we had taken, in addition to the free to enter art scholarship program we offered to art students at the time (over $8,000 annually). Anyway, one could argue that Perpetual Art Machine spearheaded a lot of these directions.

    • NicholasOBrien

      Comparing myartspace blog to something like AFC is like comparing a pinewood derby to the Indy 500. Just saying.

      • Guest

        The venue is beside the point. just saying.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Town/100002087388032 Justin Town

        The venues are beside the point… just saying.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

        Nicholas, Myartspace blog reached 40,000+ subscribers in its heyday — and an additional 20,000+ in association with a sister project. The version that exists now is not the version that existed when MAS was still operational. Just saying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Skip-Van-Cel/1435463832 Skip Van Cel

    This is really great and signifies a shift in the way art is collected and displayed. I discovered [s]editions and have bought a couple of their digital pieces.

    • http://www.artfagcity.com Paddy Johnson

      A couple of people mentioned [s]editions today too. Digital work seems to be picking up steam.

  • http://jdsiazon.com/ JD Siazon

    I’ve had a revelation: no art critic is completely free to say what they want to if their publication is being supported by art machine funding of most any kind. It works on a sliding scale: the more institutional funding through advertising the more politicized and watered down the so-called art criticism will be.

    Woe unto thee who step in this arena seeking fame and wealth over truth!

    Also, Paddy, won’t collectors of USB drives be screwed once the technology becomes obsolete?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Town/100002087388032 Justin Town

      …art “criticism” has already become obsolete in many respects and then there are blogs like Hyperallergic or AFC which are little more than platforms for art advertisement / gossip…an aesthetic social circle jerk. If one wishes to partake of serious art thought there are sites like e-flux for example…just move further up the trough. lol

      • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

        There is little or no difference between how eflux makes money and the other sites. Perhaps you have drank their Kool-aid.

        • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

          Hrag, would you agree that there is a problem if an art blog ‘trashes’ an art-related company that had turned down becoming an ad client just days before? Problems like that DO exist. The message is clear… buy ads or else receive a poor review.

          Trust me, I’ve traveled in these circles for awhile now — and I know site founders who have been treated questionably by specific art blogs (they have no reason to make this stuff up. That goes 10 fold when they beg me not to address it publicly out of concern that their claim will be ‘twisted’ by the offending blog). There is nothing wrong with ads per se (I make a living blogging… I know how hard it is)… but there is a HUGE problem if ad sales dictate content — to the point that blogs strong-arm individuals or companies if they don’t buy or continue ad contracts.

          On the other hand, I know art-related services/companies/organizations that resorted to buying ad space on specific art blogs in order to counter-act previous negative viewpoints about what they offer. Suddenly the blog praises their efforts. As one site founder put it… if you can’t win them over — buy them.

          • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

            That’s largely a myth and you don’t cite examples.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

            That is not a myth.I’ve worked in this industry for years… I know a little bit of what I’m talking about. I will be explaining one example in detail in a free e-book that I plan to work on this summer.The example takes the cake because the unethical behavior of the blog founder, which I will name, contradicts practically everything he/she has said about ethics on various issues. Lets just say that it involves one company… and one blog. Now… it could be that the site founder made the story up — but he/she (name will be revealed) had no reason to do so. Once I publish it… I suppose those two entities, if you will, can butt heads over it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

            Anyway, back to work I go. I have a few articles in mind… little debates like this fuel me. Or maybe it was the coffee.. :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Town/100002087388032 Justin Town

          Oh but you are not grasping the crux of the argument Mr. Vartanian. Pay attention: “Hyperallergic or AFC which are [little more] than platforms for 1. art advertisement / 2. gossip…an aesthetic 3. [social] circle jerk.”…[little more]. – “If one wishes to partake of [serious art thought] there are sites like e-flux for example.”

          • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

            No, I read that but your point is silly, so not worth responding to. I was simply pointing out you’re uninformed in terms of advertisement systems and what that means.

    • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

      To think there is such a thing as a “free” critic is naive. Even academia is supported by interests, funders, etc. The issue is if you trust the critic, writer, publication.

      • http://jdsiazon.com/ JD Siazon

        One thing that I would like to see more often is Hyperallergic and Art F City bring the heat to the issues pertinent in our shared dream of a better art industry.

        I don’t propose that freedom is by necessity wild but that the spirit has the opportunity at every moment to move from the known to the unknown.

        Art must not be crippled by the wanton and disingenuous use of the word “truth.”

        • http://hragv.com Hrag Vartanian

          We do, but like any publication, our resources are limited. We did turn up the heat on the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi issue, we’ve done that for Frieze and the removal of the letter, and even Cooper Union. But yes, more is always better.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Balhatain Brian Sherwin

        Can you trust the critic if ‘funders’ — on a personal level — support agendas that the critic clearly doesn’t. I’d say that people like critics with strong opinions… but what if those opinions are chipped away by the almighty dollar? At least when you look at the connection under the scope…

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Town/100002087388032 Justin Town

        …there are levels of “freedom” my friend. I think it is naive to think otherwise.

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